St. Macarios of Corinth
Concerning Continual Communion
The Christian receives great benefit from the Divine Mysteries, both in his soul and in his body, before he communes, at the time when he communes, and after he has communed. Before he communes, he must make the necessary preparation, that is, he must confess to his spiritual father, correct himself, feel compunction, acquire inner attention, guard himself from passionate thoughts as far as possible, and also from every other vice. Similarly, he must exercise self-restraint, pray, be inwardly awake, become more devout, and do every other kind of good deed, reflecting what awesome king he is about to receive within himself especially if he considers that the grace which is given to him from Communion is proportionate to his preparation. It is evident that the more one makes such preparation, the more benefit he receives.
And who can apprehend all the gifts which a Christian receives from Divine Communion when he communes? How can our weak language describe them one by one? … Through Holy Communion the mind is illumined, the intellect is brightened, all the powers of the soul are purified, the passions of the flesh are deadened, … and the love for God is kindled.
After one has communed, reflecting what dreadful heavenly Mysteries he has received, he watches lest he dishonor the grace. He is cautious, circumspect, guards his thoughts, begins a stricter and more virtuous life, and abstains as far as he can from every evil. And when he reflects that after a few days he will commune again, he doubles his attention, adds readiness to readiness, self-restraint to self-restraint, vigil to vigil, effort to effort, and he struggles to the highest degree possible. He is incited on the one hand by the fact that he has communed only a short time ago, and on the other by his anticipation of the Communion he will receive only a short time hence.
Infrequent Communion produces in Christians the opposites of all these. For whoever delays in communing makes no preparation, does not become careful, does not guard himself so diligently against evil thoughts. His delay causes him to fall into negligence, and the warmth of his devoutness to cool. The length of time gives him the license to walk with laxity and indifference in his life, and to have no fear in his soul, no restraint in his senses and watchfulness with regard to his movements, to indulge freely in food, speech and improper sights and sounds, and to become like an unbridled irrational animal, which runs away to every precipice.
How can they cleanse their mind, brighten their intellect, and beautify all the powers of the soul, if they do not partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord, which is the true purification, the true beauty, the true illumination, and the true nobility of the soul, as the divine Chrysostom says?
How can they kindle in their heart divine love, spiritual joy, divine peace, and the rest of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, without partaking of the Body and Blood of the beloved Son of the Father, of Him Who is of one essence with the Holy Spirit and is truly our joy and peace, according to the Apostle, and the source of all blessings?
Thus, those who do not commune continually are most certainly deprived of all those heavenly and divine blessings. Moreover, they are transgressors of the decrees of the Lord, the Apostolic and Synodic Canons, and the teaching of individual Saints.
Some persons say: “Look, we fulfill the commandment of the Lord, for we commune two or three times a year, and this is enough to justify us.”
We reply that this is good and beneficial, but to commune more often is much better. For the more one approaches light, the more one is illuminated; and the more one approaches fire, the more one is warmed; the more one approaches holiness, the more one is sanctified; similarly, the more one approaches God through Communion, the more one is enlightened, warmed, and sanctified. My brother, if you are worthy to commune two or three times a year, you are worthy to commune more often, as the divine Chrysostom says, provided you keep the same preparation and worthiness. What, then, hinders us from communing more often? Our negligence, our indolence, overcome by which we do not prepare ourselves as much as possible for Communion.
We were created for eternal life by our Creator, we are called to it by the word of God, and we are renewed by holy Baptism. And Christ the Son of God came into the world for this, that He should call us and take us there, and He is the one thing needful. For this reason your very first endeavor and care should be to receive it. Without it everything is as nothing, though you have the whole world under you.